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School of Hard Knocks: Self-Focus vs. Other-Focus

Portrait of John and Rena BonesioThe idea of living our calling and, ultimately, Simply Great Lives, came as a result of the heart attack John had in 2005. My story isn’t as dramatic, but I’m sharing it now because I know there are plenty of people who will relate to it. My hope is that it will be a blessing to all of you who can relate.

I finished graduate school and did some work somewhat related to my degree. I was making connections in the community and building a name for myself. I was even set up to teach at the university.

Then I had our first son.

My career trajectory changed. I started my own direct sales business so I could be home with our son and still build a career. I really wanted to be in the position of “sales director” because it was like leading a group, which I really enjoyed, and because it came with a lot of status. At the time, what I didn’t know about myself is that my self-worth was based on my work. As a result, I pushed really hard to get that position with all it’s status. I made some choices I regret. I spent a lot of money signing people up, which was against the rules of qualification. It’s just that I wanted that position so badly.

It’s really embarrassing to admit that I stepped outside my own integrity. But I want people to be aware of the heavy prices we’re willing to pay when our values get screwed up.

John and I had a lot of stress in our marriage at the time, because we each wanted to be working on our own business. In fact, I think that stress was probably one of a few factors that contributed to his heart attack.

I really struggled in my business; I wasn’t comfortable selling stuff and I hadn’t built up a strong team. In fact, I lost my position of sales director. As I was beginning to gear up again a few months after John’s heart attack, a close friend told me that she and I were really fortunate that we didn’t have to work because our husbands could support us. She asked me if I really wanted all that stress of building a team again and suggested that we could take it easy, hang out together and enjoy our families more.

I guess I’d never really thought about it that way before, but it really did sound appealing. And so we did. I began to appreciate the importance of my role as mom and the profound impact I’d have on our kids’ entire lives.I saw the power I had in creating the tone and atmosphere in our family and in our home. Truthfully, though, it took a few years for me to be really satisfied with “just being a mom.”

Then, just when I finally was good with it, John lost his job. We felt God was encouraging us to start our financial coaching business together. It’s kind of funny that when I finally gave up building a career, God gave it back to me. This time, though, it wasn’t so much about me. Instead, it was about the people we could help. I think that’s why God gave me the opportunity again, because I had the right focus this time.

Our business, Steam Engine Financial Coaching, morphed into Simply Great Lives. John and I feel we are right where we are supposed to be and doing the work God intends for us: helping other people to find their calling so they can be a benefit to other people. My old focus of building up my own status was doomed to failure. Now, anyone who hears our message and chooses to focus their life on being significant in the lives of other people is a wonderful success for us. It’s way more satisfying than any status ever was.

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